Savvy parents reveal how to save £4,000 a year on childcare costs

Tom is a new dad and navigates the confusing world of childcare and parenting (Image: Tom Church)

Once new parents decide to go back to work, paying for childcare can be very expensive.

In fact, the average cost to send a child under two years old to daycare in the UK is £138 a week for part-time hours, or £263 a week on a full-time basis.

For many, this is redundant – and not always greater than what you’d make if you went back to work.

Tom Church, co-founder of the money saving community, recently became a father. He says he’s lucky because his job is far away, so he can juggle his work time with taking care of his son, but he knows not everyone are all in the same boat.

“Fortunately, there is help if you know where to look,” says Tom. ‘With the help of money-saving parents, here’s my tip for cutting childcare costs.’

Are you eligible for a free early education?

Claim up to £3,933 a year

You get 30 hours of free childcare if you make under £100k a year.

Tom adds: ‘Sometimes there’s a bit of confusion about the free babysitting service available. On the Child Care Options page of GOV.UK site, the options are broken down. ‘

Those who qualify and have a 2-year-old child can claim 15 hours of free childcare or early education for 38 weeks.

“The total amount that can be claimed is 570 hours a year, which can be flexibly used between multiple childcare providers,” says Tom.

‘Another option, when your child is a bit older, is 30 hours of free babysitting for 3- and 4-year-olds. This provides 1,140 hours per year and can also be used flexibly. “

Tom suggests using the online tool The Childcare Calculator because it gives you an estimate of how much help you could get.

Additionally, some parents may be eligible to claim 15 hours of free babysitting for 3- and 4-year-olds, says Tom. ‘This is available for 570 hours per year and it can be extended for 52 weeks, so fewer hours of use per week.’

How will this work in practice?

“Well, an example is seen with people living in Royal Court Kensington and Chelsea,” said Tom. ‘You can claim free early education for 3- and 4-year-olds, up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks.

‘The charge is £6.90 per hour so this means you can claim up to £103.50 or £3,933 a year. “

Claim tax-free babysitting

Save up to £2,000 a year

Many parents have organized their working hours so that at least one parent can stay home to take care of their children.

Vikki Devlin says: ‘If you are in a relationship then both of you can do different jobs and make sure you have at least one day off together. ”

Similarly, Tom Barnett adds: ‘One parent works 9-5 hours at home and the rest work shifts. Both parents get a huge amount of time. On shifts, I just remember picking up and dropping off school twice a week. ‘

Tom said: ‘You would think if both parents were working it would be easier to pay for childcare. However, the unfortunate reality is that there can still be times when childcare remains difficult. ‘

So that means even if you’re both working, you can still ask for help.

Tom said: ‘For example, the government gives up to £500 every three months – up to £2,000 a year – per child to help with childcare costs.

‘For every £8 you pay, the government adds £2 which can be used to pay for your babysitting’ (Image: Getty Images)

‘This money could be used to pay for babysitters, daycare, nannies, after-school clubs and play programmes. You can claim 30 hours of free babysitting at the same time if you qualify. Just make sure your child care provider is signed up for this plan. ‘

You can claim it if you have children between the ages of 0 and 11. To qualify, Tom said you’ll need to earn a certain amount over the next three months, usually the National Minimum Wage or A living wage for 16 hours a week.

He adds: “You would set up an online childcare account and for every £8 you pay, the government adds £2. This money can be used to pay the provider. take care of your kids. ‘You can learn more about GOV.UK Location.’

Explore Tax Credits and the General Credit for Childcare

Claim up to £1,108 a month

Tom said: “Childcare tax credits are providing currently eligible claimants up to 70% of their childcare costs for children under 16 years of age.

‘This equates to £122.50 a week for one child, or £210 for two or more. However, this option is not open to new registrants, as the program has been closed to the majority of newcomers since 1 February 2019.’

People who are claiming Universal Credit and have children under the age of 17 may be eligible for childcare benefits.

Tom adds: ‘Up to 85% of eligible childcare costs can be claimed under this scheme. ‘According to Childcare Choices, you can claim up to £646 per month for one child or £1,108 if you have two or more children. “

Request a nursery discount

Save up to £1200 per year

According to the Government’s Money Advice website, the average cost of a daycare is £263 a week – and even higher in London, an average of £303 a week.

Shanice Jones suggests one trick to save these costs: ‘Get a job in daycare and get your tuition reduced. Win. ‘

Tom adds: ‘Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to lower your nursery fees if you shop around. For example, the Complete Child Care page lists discounts available to customers.

‘Those who are members of the National Childbirth Trust will be able to claim a 10% discount on their fees and the same discount is available for those working for the NHS, emergency services, HM Coastguard and the like.

‘It’s often called the NHS & Blue Light Workers discount. Furthermore, you can claim a discount if your child attends school three or more days a week, or if two or more children are attending. This can save you up to £1200 per year.

‘Also, their Refer a Friend scheme offers unlimited payouts up to £300 for sharing. “

Sign up for flexible working hours

Save over £400 a month

All employees in England, Scotland and Wales can now request flexible work, regardless of whether they have children or not.

Joanna Boyes suggests: ‘Use a flexible work rule to help you have hours. I worked while the kids were at school, got a three-hour break until my husband got home, then went to work for a few hours.

‘After that, I only had to pay a babysitter for my 8-month-old while in school.’

Similarly, Lisa Moran says: ‘Apply for flexible work (not guaranteed but worth a try). Depending on the job that requires hybrid work. ‘

Tom adds that by making your work more flexible, you can switch from full-time to part-time babysitting expenses.

He said: “Without the numbers on the Government Money Advice page, this means you could reduce the cost of daycare from £263 a week to £138, or from £321 a week to £321 a week. £180 if you live in London.

‘This means a saving of £125 or £141 a week – which is more than £400 a month.’

Ask for help while studying

Get up to £307.95 a week

It can be tough to get money to babysit while you’re in school, but many parents have gone back to education to help them with job prospects after graduation.

Amy Louise shared about her situation: ‘As a single parent, I returned to Uni to receive a higher salary when eligible. Student Finance pays for 85% of my childcare while I study.

‘By the time I qualify, my son will be starting school, so I’m hoping to only need a little funding.’

Tom adds: ‘Theo GOV.UK website, the Childcare Grant provides 85% of eligible child care costs or a fixed maximum amount. For example, for the 2021-2022 school year, the maximum a parent can receive is up to £179.62 a week for one child and up to £307.95 a week for 2 or more children. ‘

‘Personally I feel the whole childcare system is a mess. All those benefits, subsidies, tax credits and the like are confusing. It needs a complete overhaul and is made extremely simple.

‘If you want people to go back to work, childcare needs to be free and flexible. Until then, I hope these tips help shed some light on what’s available to parents. ‘

If you want more money saving tips and tricks, as well as cash chat and alerts about deals and discounts, join Our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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Tom Vazquez

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